Once in a while when a pack of football players on opposing teams go at it in a physical battle, one player’s spotlight shines a little brighter than the rest, even if he isn’t an integral part of the outcome.
Such was the case last night at Aloha Stadium, when Baldwin’s La‘akea Kahoohanohano-Davis played in a 21-6 first-round Division I state-tournament loss to Waianae.
He can motor.
Take into consideration some of these stupendous plays by Kahoohanohano-Davis, the Bear wearing jersey No. 21:
>> After Waianae takes a 7-0 lead, he returns the ensuing kickoff 36 yards up the middle right through some Seariders and he finally goes down on the fourth tackle attempt.
>> Near the end of the first half, with his team trailing 14-6, he sees a high ball thrown down the right sideline and runs from the middle of the field with his outstanding speed, times a jump in between four other players and gets up higher than anyone before coming down with the ball. His foot slides about a half-inch from the sideline and he somehow stays inbounds. Then, he charges like a gazelle past midfield and through a few more tackle attempts before being brought down. The play, however, gets called back due to a pass interference call on a teammate.
>> To start the second half, he returns the kickoff up the middle again, this time gaining 32 yards and forcing the Seariders to gang tackle him again.
>> With less than a minute left in the third quarter, the ball appears to stop rolling for a half-second after a Waianae punt, but nobody downs it and no whistle is blown. Kahoohanohano-Davis picks it up and gains steam around the left side and gets halfway to the end zone before multiple whistles start blowing.
“I know that was a touchdown, but the referee thought otherwise,” Kahoohanohano-Davis said.
Baldwin coach Pohai Lee was somewhat more forgiving of the call.
“According to the referee, when both teams give up going for the ball, it’s the referees call to blow it dead. He told me he blew the whistle. I didn’t hear it.”
Hawaii Prep World reporters on the field did not hear a whistle blown, either.
Ironically, on Baldwin’s next offensive series, one of the assistant coaches yelled to his players, “Keep going until the whistle blows.”
That’s what Kahoohanohano-Davis did. Paul Honda‘s video of the play can be seen here: http://bit.ly/1lhI4Qt.
Feeling somewhat ill, Kahoohanohano-Davis left the game and went to the locker room with trainers twice for long stretches. He said afterward that his stomach was bothering him and he was having the dry heaves.
About the interception that got called back, he said, “I saw the ball go up and I felt like it was slow motion. I was saying, ‘I just gotta grab this and run for my life.’ ”
It looked to reporters on the sideline that Kahoohanohano-Davis knew he was going to get it the whole time and when he showed up in the middle of the pack, it was as if he was saying: “This ball is mine, boys.”
In addition, Kahoohanohano-Davis made a bunch of tackles from his free safety spot and twice threw down hard-charging runners in the open field with his upper body and arms.
Kahoohanohano-Davis was gracious in defeat and thrilled the Bears made it this far.
“We overcame everybody,” he said. “We didn’t listen to the doubters and overcame. The boys came a long way (from a slow start to the season that included a 53-0 loss to Kamehameha).”
The Waianae side was loaded with top-notch players, for sure. From running backs Royce Carrick to Jurick Valdez to Javen Towne, from linebackers Jaylen Gonzales to Noah Kealoha, from defensive lineman Feletoa Ailua, to defensive back Mosiah BrameOnesimus Clarke to center Joseph Soriano-Kikila. And that’s just to name a few of the Seariders (9-3) who will meet Kahuku in the state Division I semifinals next Friday.
The Bears (8-4) have some other big-time performers, too, including wide receiver/defensive back Jonovan Taje-Akaka, quarterback Chayce Akaka, running back Kamaki Gouveia and defensive back Damien Awai.
The one in the spotlight, La‘akea Kahoohanohano-Davis, did not make a dent in the outcome, but he was a few steps to the left or to the right away from doing so.